08 March 2017
Bahrain has stepped up efforts to boost its tourism sector, which has been hampered by years of political instability, and hopes to increase its number of visitors by 36.2 percent by 2018, according to the Arabian Travel Market (ATM) conference.
The kingdom’s economy has suffered from the sharp decline in oil prices that started in mid-2014 as well as occasional demonstrations, mostly by the country’s majority Shi’ites demanding reforms since authorities crushed Arab Spring protests in 2011.
ATM said Bahrain welcomed 12.3 million tourists in 2016, up from 10 million in 2015.
“The Bahrain Tourism and Exhibition Authority has engaged with a number of public authorities and private sector organisations over recent months and the returns are beginning to be realised,” Simon Press, ATM’s senior exhibition director, said in a statement last week.
ATM, which organises an annual travel exhibition in Dubai, forecast that the Bahraini tourism sector could be valued at $1 billion by 2020.
The country is working on promoting its hotels, leisure attractions and increasing its spending on tourism infrastructure, according to the statement. A planned $1.1 billion project to develop Bahrain International Airport is expected to double the state’s main airport capacity from 7 million passengers to 14 million passengers by the second quarter of 2020.
ATM said as these efforts continue, the tourism sector’s contribution to gross domestic product is expected to reach 13 percent by 2026 from around 10.6 percent in 2015.
(Reporting by Yasmine Saleh)
© Zawya 2017